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The memo got it wrong.

No Special Ed Services for You

by Mike Donnelly • July 5, 2018

If you have a child in a West Virginia public school who is struggling with behavioral issues, attendance problems, or special needs, don’t expect much cooperation if you tell officials you want to homeschool.

Rather, according to a recent memo released by the State Department of education, you should expect pushback and active resistance.

A Question of Choice

I uncovered this hostility to home education in a memo from an assistant director at the state Department of Education.

The document was addressed to public school personnel and not only contained misguided advice about the availability of special needs services, but also suggested that homeschooling is a poor choice for students who need these services.

The memo states:

Please encourage parents to strongly consider their child’s educational history and need for specially designed instruction when making the decision to homeschool. Districts should not recommend that parents homeschool children who are experiencing behavioral issues or attendance problems, especially if the student needs special education.

The memo explains that the main reason public educators should warn against homeschooling in this context is because “parents who file a notice of intent to homeschool have thereby revoked consent for special education and related services.”

False Statement

This statement is simply untrue, a fact I pointed out to state education officials in a letter I sent late in June.

As a matter of federal and state law, homeschooling parents who have filed a notice intent may indeed, under certain circumstances, qualify for publicly funded special education and related services.

But more troubling than getting the law wrong is the misguided stereotype the memo presents regarding home education.

Discouraging parents from homeschooling students who struggle with various issues (including special needs) is a major disservice because it ignores home education’s amazing success in helping these children.

I could relate numerous stories of children I know who benefitted greatly from the individualized attention and custom learning programs that homeschooling provides.

Here at Home School Legal Defense Association, we believe so strongly in the power of homeschooling to help struggling students that we employ several consultants who focus on special needs education. HSLDA members may submit questions to these consultants by phone or email.

We will continue to monitor the situation and ensure that no homeschool families are discriminated against or denied their rights under the law.

Michael Donnelly

Senior Counsel, Director of Global Outreach

Mike is an attorney, writer, adjunct professor of government, and frequent media spokesperson on homeschooling, freedom, and parental rights. Read more.

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